Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Seeds of life renewed......

And the inspiration did indeed fire me up and get me back out there enjoying myself. I've had a fabulous week of running and managed to clear my head of all doubts and negative thoughts and 19th June it will be!!

Last Tuesday did indeed start with a trip up into the moors in deep snow and dense, low cloud. Amazing how you think you know somewhere and that your intuition will see you right....until the light starts fading, you can't quite recognise where you are, and you're struggling in a thigh-deep snowdrift!! All was well in the end, as I followed a compass bearing and managed to drop down to the Calderdale Way and follow that back over to Midgley, then down through the woods in darkness.

Wednesday was a gorgeous day, so another trip up onto the moor to work out where I went wrong the day before (defintely went to the right of High Brown Knoll!). Progress was slow in the deep snow but thoroughly enjoyable. Arrived back home with frozen shoelaces and trousers! Pleased to have got a good run in though, and rewarded myself with a couple of extra pints in the Fox in the evening :-)

Xmas Eve saw a club run from Old Town and, wouldn't you know it, we went up to High Brown Knoll again!!! Low cloud again made navigation interesting, along with a good coating of new snow...but Richard B was spot on to see us up to the top. A smashing run, lovely "credit crunch lunch" and a couple of pints, before heading down into Hebden for another pint in the Fox....excellent!!!

Not content with that run, at 11pm, we got kitted up again on a beautiful evening, and headed up onto the moors, where the deep snow and half moon meant that torches weren't needed as we slithered along the paths to see in Xmas Day. We had a lovely vision of some child in one of the villages looking out bleary-eyed, seeing lights heading across the moors, and imagining it was santa and his reindeer :-) Two hours out on the moors then back to hot drinks and Xmas Day.

A rest on Xmas Day, although we managed to walk a few miles down for a lunchtime pint at the Fox.

Boxing Day saw a trip out to my old running ground of the Stiperstones and the 3 mile "Dash" or "Dawdle". I was somewhere inbetween!!! Not much snow, but sheets of ice all ove the place, making it tough. Smashing run though, and nice to get into the pub and see several old Harriers and Newport friends. Lovely!! Oh, and of course, Rob was there as well, only seen him a few times since supporting on his BG. Still running well, finished in the top 10 and, of course, was there with wise words and motivation, and reassurance that, of course, I will do it this time.

27th saw us heading to Llangynhafal for the 2-mile downhill Jubilee Plunge. We arrived nice and early to have a bit of a run first....only to find the race was cancelled due to ice near the top. Actually, it was a good thing, and meant we had a couple of hours out on the Clywdian Hills, including the steep descent and then ascent up the gully from the November race. It was slippy on top and I can't blame the organiser for calling it off....but nice to see most folks had a run anyway!

28th saw me back on very familiar ground, parking up at Carding Mill to do a recce of the Valleys race. 13 of us in total I think, on a lovely but very cold day. Conditions underfoot were solid and slippy!! Lovely to see everyone though, and I really enjoyed being pushed along a bit.

And now, I'm back in Calderdale, with a race on Thursday and LDWA event on Friday to look forward to!! The achilles is complaining a bit today, but should settle down. Whereas the head is in good condition and raring to get stuck into training.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Follow the link on the right "In the bleak midwinter", into the linked blogs on that site, for some incredible photos of what looks like a tough, but inspiring day out. I'm sure Mark must be a bit disappointed to not have dipped under the 24 hours, but what an incredible achievement to get round in true winter conditions. So inspiring, and I feel a wave of excitement and anticipation rising in me just reading about it. I think that desire is still simmering, and once Christmas is out of the way, the training plan will be in place ready for 19th June.

Little in the way of running here for a couple of days. Having had a lovely solo walky run over the moors on Saturday afternoon (including a quick trip into the Cat to warm up in front of the fire with a pint of Pennine Gold ;-) ), Sunday and yesterday were both busy days with little time to get out.

The snow's falling again this morning, adding a new layer to the carpet of snow that covers the moors. Pleased to day I have the time to get out there this afternoon, so will wade my way across to High Brown Knoll and take in the bleakness of the situation.
I hope there's a sunset like there was the other day, but can't see it at the moment.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

We are our own saviours....

Snow comes to West Yorkshire and turns the fells into an exciting playground :-)

Which sort of puts all that last post into perspective. Or not, as the case may be. Perhaps it's my age, perhaps it's circumstances and events. Perhaps I'm getting a realisation that I've been planning the BG for other people rather than myself? To prove something to others? To pretend I am as good as them?

At the end of the day, it's just a day out in the hills. There are people I know who've done it and who admire both for their achievements on the fells and as people. Then there are people I know who've done it, who I respect for that achievement but who are, quite frankly, not the sort of people I'd like to be or be associated with.

And therein lies the enlightenment...the BG won't make me a better person, it might gain me "acceptance" from some people (including those whose acceptance I don't crave) but actually, I'm no longer very interested in that. I'm even getting to the point of feeling that I don't need to prove anything to myself either.

So where does that leave me? Either it leaves me deciding that I'm not bothered and to shelve the idea, and go back to just enjoying the fells for what they are....beautiful and real. Or it strips away all the "wrong" reasons for doing it and leaves me with just a pure desire to have a nice day out and get myself around those 42 peaks because I CAN.

Alternatively, of course, both this post and the last could just be dismissed as a load of self-indulgent claptrap (which they UNDOUBTEDLEY are!)and just a slight veering off course on the path between birth and death, which happens all the time and is nothing to write home about (or indeed write a blog about!).

Anyway, as you were......

Finish with a photo.....lovely snowy fells yesterday

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

And nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all...

Seems a bit early and a bit worrying to be questioning whether I have the motivation at this stage! And what exactly my motivation is?

Having been very focused last year, and even through the early part of autumn, I'm now wondering why I want to bother. It's not as if the world is going to stop, or even my own little world is going to care much.

Better to just go out, walk and plod round and enjoy the fells perhaps?

Perhaps this is just a stage, perhaps I'll get over this and find my desire renewed. Or perhaps not. Either way, the hills will still be there and that's where I'll want to be.

Life's too short....

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nothing to see here......

Still resting up the achilles, so no running done at all this week. Not one single step :-(

Instead, I've been out for 3 decent bike rides. I'm getting a wee bit more confident on the bike, but still a comparative wimp! Enjoyed my trip out on Friday though, coming back along London Road and getting thrown off a few times as the tyres got stuck in boulders.

It's still not running though,is it? And the general mood reflects this. I need a good few hours out on the fells to shake off this cloud that feels like it's hanging over me.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

One step forwards, and two steps back!

I guess that's how it is with fellrunning!! Although, to be fair, it's more like two steps forward and one back.

The steps forward? A good training week, back somewhere near what it needs to be.

The step back? I decided I couldn't ignore the lump on my achilles any longer. It's had long enough to settle down now but still hasn't. So a trip to the physio recommended by various Toddies, some painful massage and frictions, some ultrasound and a "suggestion" that I shouldn't run for at least a couple of weeks otherwise it'll turn into a chronic problem.

And I've decided to follow that advice (subject to one last long run over Pendle last Sunday), so the bike is out, the turbo trainer is ready and the fell shoes are placed away in the cupboard (metaphorically speaking!).

But first, a decent training week and some reassurance that the climbing legs are still there.

Monday started with a trot along the canal in the rain. Felt the need to go out and do something, so after trotting a couple of miles, put in some efforts on the way back, using towpath bridges as a marker for starting and ending. Surprisingly good fun! Only 3.5 miles, but enough to shake any lethargy out of the legs.

Tuesday I made a very rash decision...my first speedwork session at the club, and the first time I've done speedwork in over 6 months! I decided I'd take it easy....yeah, right! The competitive edge kicked in and I pushed as hard as I could to stay out front...leading to completely knackered legs on Wednesday and Thursday :-) Good stuff though, I enjoyed it..especially when the heavens opened in a torrential downpour during my warm-down, leaving me soaked!

Wednesday night was the Tod Fireworks bat run,a damp evening for the event. We plodded up to Stoodley Pike in drizzle and a cold wind, my legs protesting..to watch the fireworks being launched into the night sky from a bow and arrow!!

Thursday I tried to go out and run, but the head just wasn't there at all. First time I've felt that low in the last few weeks. A combination of factors, all of which left me on the floor, lacking motivation and so, after only 3.5 miles, I decided to call it a day and head home.

Friday was a better day and I headed out for a long run on a nice morning. Up from Brearley, over Scout Rock, down into Mytholmroyd and then up over Erringden Moor towards Stoodley Pike. It was lovely up there, the mist clinging to the top of the monument.

A trot up Dicks Lane towards the monument and then I dropped down through the trees to Withens Clough reservoir, before following the path back up to the stoop then heading out to run a complete loop around the head of the reservoir to descend towards Cragg Vale.

At this point, I had no map and no idea where the small trod would lead me...which turned out to be a bit of a problem because it ended at a wall! So I turned right to follow the wall, ending up nearly at the top of the Cragg Vale road.

I was late by now (appointment with physio!), and had to really push on to climb over Scout Rock and back home. By now it was drizzling and turning into a wet, grey afternoon but I'd had a lovely time.
And autumn is such a lovely time of year to be running, the colours are beautiful. As I headed down through the woods, the leaves were glowing on the floor.

Although things have been a wee bit difficult since moving here (master of understatement!), I do love it and don't regret it. Running is fantastic, and the vast majority of people are great, welcoming and recognise someone like themselves in me.

Friday afternoon saw me take a trip to the physio in Haworth for an assessment of the achilles. The good news is she thinks it's not in too bad a condition. The bad news is that it'll need some rest to get it right. But now's the time to be doing that, so fingers crossed it doesn't take too long.

Saturday was a "rest" day, acting as 1st Aider at the Shepherds Skyline race. I expected little apart from the odd cut knee...but instead ended up sprinting along London Road to pick up a runner who'd fallen heavily on her shoulder. A definite reminder, if one was needed, that proper kit should be carried at fell races...you never know when you might need it!

Sunday was my final run before resting! A recce of the Tour of Pendle, organised by Chrispy. Seven of us set off on a cloudy, cool morning for a fantastic run. For various reasons, I started the day feeling down and with a scowl on my face....by the end of the run I was beaming and on a high! Wonderful running, splendid views, lovely company...what more could you want.

So in total, I think the week was 47 miles and 9,000ft, which isn't far off what I want to get back to. And the good news is that, apart from the soreness from speedwork, no after-effects on my legs at all. The climbing legs were clearly still there on Sunday, and I felt fine at the end. It all bodes well...now if I can just get this achilles right....

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

New beginnings.....

2009 saw me finally pluck up the courage to have a go at the BG. I'd been thinking about it for a couple of years but, despite having walked on the fells since I was a wee small lad, I didn't have the confidence to consider myself a serious contender.

June 2009 changed all that.

Despite not completing (I baled out after 4 legs, at Threlkeld), I gained so much from that day. I then knew I could do it. It isn't beyond me at all. I learned some very harsh lessons, mostly about nutrition and about the need to stay mentally strong at all times.

The truth is I COULD have done it that day. I talked myself out of it at Dunmail. It certainly would have been close and it wouldn't have been pleasant, having felt sick most of the day. But I could have done it. Put me back at Dunmail again now with just over 9 hours to go, and I'll do it. The BG, I know so completely now, is as much in the mind as in the body.

I did some things right as well. The training was nearly spot on (a few tweaks this time, but nothing radical). The old "10,000ft a week" rule certainly works. And regular sports massage in the weeks leading up to the attempt also worked.

I have a couple of leftover niggles from the summer. Most noticeably, a lumpy achilles which still troubles me at times, but seems better when I am training harder.

I actually set off on another attempt in mid-July, knowing I had the achilles problem and I had a whole heap of personal change going on. Mind you, as soon as we headed out from Keswick, all that seemed to melt away and the 1st leg passed by so easily and 15+ minutes up on the previous attempt. I thought it was going to be my day.

But coming up Great Gable, I felt the first cramps in my calf and the tightening of the achilles. By the time we were heading over Kirk Fell, the achilles felt like it was going to snap at any moment. I decided to call it a day before I did more damage. I shouldn't have started, I knew things weren't right. But this BG does funny things to you, and I tried to put it all aside for the day.

So 2010 is THE year. I will complete the BG this year. The summer has been more relaxed, easing off the mileage. More unsettling personal upheaval, but the test is whether you can bounce back from knocks and lows in your life. I will.

The calendar is out, the training programme being constructed....and I CAN'T WAIT!!!